Kenneth Harrison

The Wrong Kind Of Buzz

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

At what point does Georgia Tech (1-3) move on from Paul Johnson? Why do they believe in rewarding mediocrity? These are questions asked by every Tech fan after another loss.

The Yellow Jackets got beat down by Clemson 49-28. The Tigers primarily played true freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence and he tossed 4 touchdown passes.

Tech fumbled 8 times, recovering 7. Clemson’s first touchdown came when Clelin Ferrell recovered a fumble in the end zone.

“Well, we got our tails kicked. We got outplayed, outcoached and we got beat by a really good football team. And we’re not good enough to fumble the ball seven or eight times and jump offsides and take ourselves out of field-goal range to start the game with two sacks in a row. All those things,” Johnson said.

Let’s take a look at Johnson to see what’s going on. On the surface, he seems like he is doing a great job since taking over as head coach in Atlanta back in 2008. His record is 77-56 so he as a 0.579 winning percentage.

He did his best work when he first took over and inherited Chan Gailey’s players. CPJ is notoriously known for his poor recruiting and that is catching up. In 2015, they finished 3-9 with one conference win.

Last season they were 5-6 and had the UCF game cancelled. They would have lost to Central Florida if the game were played. Johnson also led Tech to a losing 6-7 record in 2010 but at least that came from a bowl loss. He had two seven-win seasons in 2012 and 2013.

Since winning the Orange Bowl and finishing No. 8 nationally during the 2014 season, the Yellow Jackets are 18-22 overall and 9-17 in the ACC.

Following last year’s sub-par campaign, his contract was extended for some reason. It was a move as bizarre as Johnson’s play calling. He already had three years remaining on his contract before the extension, now he is signed to remain on The Flats until 2022.

Athletic Director Todd Stansbury had to explain this head-scratching move.

“Aside from Bobby Dodd, no head coach in Georgia Tech football history has won more games in his first 10 seasons than Paul Johnson,” Stansbury said. “By extending Coach Johnson’s contract through 2022, we not only keep one of the most successful coaches in our illustrious history right here on The Flats, but we also ensure continued stability within our coaching staff. Stability is a vital piece in recruiting and student-athlete development, which are key components to any successful college program. I’m excited that Coach Johnson’s extension is officially complete and I’m looking forward to achieving even more success under his leadership in future years.”

The fan base is tired of these results but nobody at Tech seems to care. I thought Johnson should have been fired in 2012 after they lost to Middle Tennessee at home by 21 points. It seems like he will not be going anywhere but it’s time to reevaluate that.

On the bright side, the next game is at home against Bowling Green. This will be an easy win. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if they will win any more games after that. The conference games that looked like easy wins now seem difficult.

Virginia is 3-1. North Carolina started 0-2 but they just beat Pitt. Duke has won three of the last four meetings.

I think the best case scenario this season is 5 wins.

Falcons Back In Flight

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Atlanta Falcons rebounded after a Week 1 loss. They beat division rival Carolina 31-24 in a very competitive game.

Matt Ryan finished 23 of 28 passing for 272 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception in a performance that took some of the heat off offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

Matty Ice also channeled his inner Mike Vick on a touchdown run in the third quarter. Looking to throw on third-and-5 from the Carolina 8, he spotted a running lane to the left and took off.

“I didn’t want to slide in that situation or go down because you don’t know where you’re going to be marked,” he said. “I felt something below my feet, and just went up the best I could. It was a good decision.”

Eight players caught passes. Six ran the ball including Tevin Coleman, who gained 107 yards on 16 carries filling in for injured Devonta Freeman. Rookie Ito Smith also played well adding 46 yards on 9 carries.

The Falcons resembled the high-scoring team that made it all the way to the Super Bowl two seasons ago with Kyle Shanahan as the coordinator.

Tight end Austin Hooper had five catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. Rookie Calvin Ridley scored his first NFL touchdown and had for receptions for 64 yards. Julio also hauled in five catches for 64 yards.

Atlanta has one of the most talented offenses in pro football. It is head scratching that they played so poorly in the season opener. It’s especially interesting considering Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for over 400 yards and 4 touchdowns against that same Eagles defense.

The Falcons are happy to get the win but I still see some red flags. The total yards were almost even with Carolina gaining 439 and Atlanta with 442. Each team also had one turnover.

The defense is dealing with injuries, missing two Pro Bowlers. Safety Keanu Neal tore his ACL in the first game and he will miss the rest of the season. Linebacker Deion Jones was also placed on injured reserve after the Philly game with a foot injury.

“We are bummed for Deion but we do expect to get him back at some point this season. He represents all that we are looking for in a Falcon player, and while he will not be on the field for us right now, he will continue to have a presence in our building,” coach Dan Quinn said in a statement.

Second year linebacker Duke Riley is filling in and he has not played well since joining the NFL. The team is hoping he can make drastic improvements this season.

Cam Newton is known more for being an athletic quarterback and less for his accuracy but he had a good day through the air. He passed for 335 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 pick. He also took a cheap shot from safety Damontae Kazee who was thrown out of the game for the helmet-to-helmet hit while the Panthers quarterback was sliding at the end of a run.

The Falcons should feel good going into the Week 3 home game against New Orleans. The Saints needed a last second field goal to win against the lowly Browns. The week before they gave up 48 points to Tampa Bay.

I expect this to be a high scoring shoot-out. It will come down to the defense to make a critical stop.

 

NFC South

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The NFL season has officially kicked off and there were some great games.

All 32 teams (even Cleveland) believe they have a chance for a winning season at this point. Well maybe not Buffalo but you get my drift. We’re going to take a look around the NFC South to see what we learned.

New Orleans and Tampa Bay played a great, high scoring game. The Buccaneers won 48-40 on the road. The first thing that jumps out is the lack of defense from both teams.

Jameis Winston is currently serving a three-game suspension, so journeyman QB Ryan Fitzpatrick played. Surprisingly, Fitzpatrick threw for 417 yards, 4 touchdowns, no interceptions and completed 75% of his passes.

He played amazing but he has been inconsistent his entire career. I believe if he wins another game, he will take the starting job from Winston.

The Saints have been known for elite offense since Sean Payton and Drew Brees came to town in 2006 and they did not disappoint.

Wide receiver Michael Thomas had a monster game with 16 catches, 180 yards and a TD. He also had a costly fumble that Tampa Bay recovered.

Alvin Kamara showed that he would not have a sophomore slump. He scored 3 total touchdowns, a 2-point conversion and had over one hundred yards receiving.

Carolina beat Dallas 16-8. The Panthers defense looked good, holding Ezekiel Elliot to 69 yards rushing. Cam Newton lived up to his Super Man nickname, leading the team in rushing yards. He scored a TD on the ground and he looked better as a passer by completing 65% of his attempts.

We have to take into consideration this was against the Cowboys and their offense is not very good. Dallas has been elite at running the ball but they do not have any playmakers other than Elliott.

I think Carolina’s defense is good but we need to see them against better offenses.

Linebacker Luke Kuechly left the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury so that is something to monitor.

Atlanta opened on the road against the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles won 18-12 and it was a sloppy game that was delayed to due lightning.

If you recall in last season’s playoff game it came down to the final play and the Falcons could not score the winning touchdown.

The Red Zone woes continued for the Falcons and that is troubling. They had five trips to the Red Zone and scored once.

On the final play of the game Atlanta was inside the Eagles 10-yard line and of course, they have to throw to Julio Jones. Unfortunately, Ryan did not throw him a catchable ball, just like the playoff loss.

I’ve always been a big Matty Ice fan but his expectations were raised when he signed his new $150 million contract. He’s under much more scrutiny and I feel this is a Super Bowl or bust year for the Falcons.

We have 15 more games left so I do not want to overreact after week 1.

The NFC South looks like it will be the most competitive division in the league again. I believe if one of the teams can get home field advantage in the playoffs they will get to the Super Bowl.

 

 

Rising Up?

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Super Bowl LIII is going to be held in Atlanta February 3, 2019. I have to wonder if the Atlanta Falcons can be the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium?

The Falcons have some key pieces in place like quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan signed a five-year, $150 million contract making him the highest paid player in the league. I’m a fan of Matty Ice but it’s going to be tough for him to live up to that contract.

Expectations were raised since he is now paid more than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and any other QB that won a ring.

Ryan was league MVP in 2016 and led the team to Super Bowl LI. Last year under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian there were some growing pains.

He threw for 4,095 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while completing 65% of his passes. The numbers are not bad but they are all worse than 2016. Under his second year with Sark he should improve.

We all know Julio Jones is the best receiver in the NFL and he looks to have another big year. Jones had 1,444 yards last season but only 3 TD’s. I know he plans on getting into the end zone more in 2018. Mohamed Sanu had 5 touchdowns so he scored more than Jones and added 703 yards.

They also drafted Calvin Ridley in the first round to form possibly the best receiving corps in the league. Defenses will not be able to double Julio anymore.

The offense also features two versatile backs, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. The pair combined for 1,493 yards rushing and 63 receptions for 616 yards. Atlanta should be a top five offense this season.

The defense ranked 9th in total defense in 2017, giving up 318 yards per game. That was a drastic improvement.

Vic Beasley Jr. led the league in sacks in 2016 with 15.5. He only had 5 in 2017. Defensive end Takk McKinley had 6 sacks as a rookie. If he progresses as expected they should wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.

The secondary is led by safety Keanu Neal and cornerback Desmond Trufant. The weak unit on defense is the linebackers. Duke Riley needs to improve in his second year. Riley missed 8 of 31 tackle attempts, the worst rate for any linebacker in the NFL.

An indoor team like Atlanta needs home field advantage in the playoffs. They will struggle playing outside in cold weather in January.

The schedule looks tough at first glance. The NFC South sent three teams to the playoffs last year. The games against New Orleans and Carolina will be difficult. Even Tampa Bay plays well against the Falcons.

The season begins on the road against the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. That is where the season ended with a playoff loss. Atlanta is matched up with the NFC East and AFC North.

The rest of the NFC East teams like Washington, Dallas and New York present a challenge. The Giants drafted running back Saquan Barkley and they have Odell Beckham Jr. as a weapon on the outside.

Dallas will have Ezekiel Elliott at their disposal this year and they have a great offensive line.

The only tough team in the NFC North is Pittsburgh. Cleveland looks to be much better on paper but we will have to see if it materializes.

Another noteworthy game is Week 14 at Green Bay. The Packers are expected to be very good.

The Falcons have the chance to make history but it won’t be easy.

Rolling Tide

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Alabama has been a college football powerhouse since the 1920’s. They returned back to the top program in the nation when they hired Nick Saban in 2007. He has won 5 national championships since taking over in Tuscaloosa, including last year.

The topic all off-season has been the quarterback controversy. Everyone is aware Jalen Hurts has been the quarterback the last two seasons. He led the Crimson Tide to the national title game in both years. He played poorly against Georgia and he was replaced by freshman Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa led the comeback and threw the game winning touchdown.

He is the starter but it seems like Saban doesn’t want to lose Hurts by making that announcement. This could be a distraction throughout the season.

Hurts has already spoken to the media and said nobody including coaches talked to him at all about his playing situation.

I’m going to assume Tagovailoa is the QB for the entire season. He can add an element that Bama has lacked in the Saban era, a big-time quarterback. They typically rely on a strong running game and defense and they have average quarterbacks. It will be interesting to see how the offense will look with someone that has NFL first round talent.

Senior running back Damien Harris will get the bulk of the carries. He rushed for 1,000 yards the past two seasons. Left tackle Jonah Williams is also a great lineman so he will help open holes and protect the passer.

Linebackers Mack Wilson, Dylan Moses, defensive ends Raekwon Davis and Isaiah Buggs, will lead the defense. I expect the defense to be good again but the secondary will be the weakest unit.

The season begins on September 1st in Orlando against Louisville. Lamar Jackson left for the NFL so the Cardinals will have a new quarterback. Bama will win the game by 30 plus points.

The first home game of the season is Week 2 versus Arkansas State. The Red Wolves are overmatched and will get destroyed.

The Crimson Tide travel to Oxford, MS to take on Ole Miss next. The Rebels got spanked 66-3 last year. I expect another big loss for Ole Miss but not nearly that bad.

Texas A&M will be the next opponent. The Aggies have only beaten Alabama once since joining the SEC and that was during their first year in 2012. Jimbo Fisher is now the head coach at A&M. This is a 20-point win for Bama.

Louisiana-Lafayette comes to town to end September. This will be another game to pad stats and correct mistakes.

The next three games are at Arkansas, Mizzou and at Tennessee. Arkansas and Tennessee have new head coaches. These will all be easy double-digit wins for the Tide.

After a bye week, the first real test is November 3rd at LSU. I call this a test because the Tigers also recruit well and have great athletes.

The big difference is they are coached by Ed Orgeron and they can never develop a competent quarterback.

Miss State comes to Tuscaloosa and this will be a tough game. The Bulldogs have lost former head coach Dan Mullen so I give the edge to Alabama.

The Citadel is the tune up game before the season finale. The goal is stay healthy during this 50-point win.

Finally, they get a chance to avenge the loss to Auburn last season November 24th. Their stud running back Kerryon Johnson has departed for the NFL. This will also be a tough game.

Alabama should finish undefeated or 11-1 at worst.

Return Of The Chomp?

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Florida is one of the premier jobs in the nation. They have a great recruiting base as well as tradition. For some reason the Gators have been struggling since Tim Tebow left campus after the 2009 season.

The Will Muschamp and Jim McElwain eras had some success but nothing consistent. They had a dismal 2017, finishing 4-7. A coaching change had to be made so McElwain was relieved of his duties. Florida had their eyes on Chip Kelly but he chose UCLA over the Gators.

Dan Mullen was named the head coach and I think was a great hire. Mullen coached at Mississippi State from 20009 – 2017 and he led the Bulldogs to a 69-46 record.

As you know, the SEC West is the much tougher division and Miss State does not attract top talent so that is impressive. Mullen also coached at Utah (03 – 04) and Florida (05 – 08) under Urban Meyer so he already understands the fan base.

Right now, Florida has discipline problems because it seems like a player is arrested every week. Freshman and four-star cornerback Justin Watkins was arrested for his second time in three months recently on a felony charge of strangulation. The team has suspended him. Last September nine players were arrested and faced felony charges for an alleged fraud ring.

Mullen is a good offensive coach but Florida has lacked talent on that side of the ball. His biggest challenge will be developing a quarterback. Redshirt sophomore and four-star recruit Feleipe Franks will likely win the starting job. He played in 6 games in 2017 and threw for 1,438 yards, 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Kyle Trask is also competing for the job.

“I watched Feleipe Franks throw the ball 75 yards against Tennessee. The last quarterback I saw that could throw the ball that far was Cam Newton,” Mullen said. “The last quarterback I coached that had that arm talent was Cam Newton.”

Last year’s recruiting class was ranked in the top 15 and featured 14 four-star recruits. There will be some talent arriving on campus this Fall. The highest rated recruit is wide receiver Jacob Copeland who was ranked 69th nationally.

I feel UF is about a year away from a breakout season but with their schedule, they will go back to a bowl. The first three games are all at home against Charleston Southern, Kentucky and Colorado State. These are all easy wins. Kentucky could possibly put up a fight; they only lost by one-point last year.

The next two games are on the road at Tennessee and Mississippi State. The game against the Vols should be a win. Miss State will be the first loss on the season.

October 6th is at the Swamp versus LSU. The Tigers will win this game. A much-needed trip to Nashville the following week will snap this two-game losing streak. Then the Gators head into the bye week before the showdown against Georgia.

I cannot see UGA losing this game. Barring injury, the Bulldogs should win this game handily.

UF has three more home games against Mizzou, South Carolina and Idaho. I think the only game in this stretch they will lose is against the Game Cocks.

The season finale is at Tallahassee against Florida State. The Seminoles also have a first-year head coach in Willie Taggart so we don’t know how good they will be. I’m going to give the edge to FSU for now but clearly that can change.

Florida should win 7-8 games in 2018 and set up a big 2019 season.

Panthers Ready To Pounce

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The college football season is approaching fast. The major programs in the state are normally talked about consistently like Georgia, Georgia Tech or Georgia Southern. Georgia State often flies under the radar. We’re going to take a look at the Panthers and see what they will do in 2018.

This is a pretty new program considering they started playing in 2010. They only spent two seasons at the FCS level before moving up to Division 1 or the FBS level. They are a member of the Sun Belt Conference which is competitive.

They also used to play in the Georgia Dome, which used to look empty during games. Last season they converted Turner Field into Georgia State Stadium. Attendance not only improved by 5 percent in the first year (despite the home-opener loss to Tennessee State), but with a capacity of 24,333, the stadium actually fit the fan base.

Last season was the first year for head coach Shawn Elliott. It started off poorly with a season opening loss then a 56-0 drubbing by Penn State. Then they ripped off 6 wins in 7 games and won the first bowl game in program history. They won the Cure Bowl 27-17 over Western Kentucky and finished the year 7-5.

That momentum has carried over into recruiting because Elliott’s first full-year recruiting class ranked third in the Sun Belt and averaged a three-star rating. His staff is full of hungry young assistants like 33-year old offensive coordinator Travis Trickett and 37-year old defensive coordinator Nate Fuqua.

GSU may take a step backwards in 2018. The run game was maybe the worst in FBS last year and isn’t guaranteed to improve much. The defense returns several playmakers and the receiving corps is exciting.

Quarterback Connor Manning played well last season, completing 64% of his passes. He graduated so junior Aaron Winchester will likely be the starter. Winchester nearly saved GSU against Tennessee State in the opener, leading a fourth-quarter scoring drive before throwing a pick in the final minute. Winchester has mobility (not including sacks, he carried 17 times for 101 yards last year).

Penny Hart was the leading receiver with 74 catches, 1,121 yards and 8 touchdowns. I expect him to be just as explosive this season. GSU adds two SEC transfers, 6’4 South Carolina receiver Christian Owens and 6’3 Florida tight end Camrin Knight.

There’s minimal guarantee that the run game will improve, though it can’t get worse. The line does return four starters and seven players with starting experience.

The defense was able to stop the run, ranking 41st nationally in run defense. Fuqua gets four of his top five linemen and five of seven linebackers back in 2018. The secondary is the weakest position group and they ranked 110th in passing defense. They also allowed a 63% completion rate with a 23-10 TD-to-INT ratio.

The schedule is tough; they open against Kennesaw State who is ranked No.3 in the FCS preseason poll. I think the Owls will pull off the upset and beat GSU.

The schedule features road trips to NC State, Memphis, and all three of last year’s Sun Belt heavyweights (Arkansas State, Appalachian State, Troy), which means there will be almost no margin for error.

The best chances to win are against Louisiana-Monroe, Texas State, Western Michigan, Coastal Carolina and Louisiana-Lafayette. I think the Panthers will win 5 games in 2018.

Buzzing In Atlanta

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I have to start this with full disclosure. I’m from Atlanta and I’m a huge Georgia Tech fan. I grew up going to spring practices and home games. I wish George O’Leary never left the program for Notre Dame.

I’m also not a fan of Paul Johnson, at all. He started well when he got to Atlanta in 2008 because he had the players recruited by Chan Gailey.

Things have gotten progressively worse each year because of poor recruiting. The Yellow Jackets were 3-9 in 2015 and 5-6 last season. It seems like CPJ does just enough to not be fired but he’s not good enough to leave for a job at any other Power 5 school.

Not to sound pessimistic but as long as Johnson is the coach Tech has accepted mediocrity. They have attempted to make a positive change by getting rid of defensive coordinator Ted Roof and replacing him with Nate Woody.

Woody comes from Appalachian State and the scheme he uses is an attacking 3-4 defense. I’m not sure if Tech has the athletes for this so we will see how this goes.

The best player on the team is quarterback TaQuan Marshall. He’s the prototypical option quarterback meaning he runs well but struggles throwing the football. He led the team in rushing with 1,218 yards and 18 touchdowns. He passed for 936 yards, 10 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He only completed 37.6% of his passes.

Georgia Tech’s 2018 slate is balanced with six home games at Bobby Dodd Stadium and six road contests.

Eight of the Yellow Jackets’ 12 opponents advanced to postseason play in 2017, including all four ACC teams that will visit Bobby Dodd Stadium — College Football Playoff participant and ACC champion Clemson, Quick Lane Bowl champion Duke, ACC Coastal Division champion Miami and Military Bowl participant Virginia.

Game 1 is September 1st against FCS opponent Alcorn State. This is an easy 50-point blowout win.

The next week is on the road at South Florida. USF was 10-2 last year so the Bulls have some talent. They lost 25 seniors from the 2017 team so they have lost talent and leadership. The Yellow Jackets will get the W.

Game 3 is also on the road at Pitt. GA Tech beat them 35-17 in 2017 and I expect a similar result.

They return home to face Clemson who will be ranked in the top five. The Tigers have drastically superior talent. Clemson will obliterate Tech.

Bowling Green comes to town September 29th. This will be a rebound win.

Friday October 5th is at Louisville. I’m not sure if the Cardinals can replace superstar Lamar Jackson so I anticipate them struggling on offense. Yellow Jackets should win.

They return home the following week to face Duke. The Blue Devils have had Tech’s number recently. This is a tossup.

After a bye week the Jackets travel to Blacksburg for a Thursday night game. VA Tech will win the game.

Game 9 is at North Carolina. UNC is coming off a 3-9 season so they may not be very good in 2018. This should be another win for the Yellow Jackets.

November 10th is home against Miami. The Hurricanes have also dominated Tech since CPJ has been head coach. Canes will win.

Virginia travels to Atlanta after that and Tech should win.

The finale is in Athens against a much more talented UGA team. Jake Fromm will be better in his second season and Georgia gets an easy win.

I think Georgia Tech will win 7-8 games and return to a bowl game.

 

Go Dogs!

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We are about one month away from the 2018 high school football season. North Gwinnett won the 7A state championship last season. The Bulldogs beat Colquitt County 19-17 on a last second field goal to win the game.

Coming into the season, they are ranked as the preseason No. 1 team. They will have a very tough time defending the title but I think it is possible.

The top recruit on the team is cornerback DJ Turner II. He’s a three-star prospect and committed to Michigan. He’s 6’0 tall so has good size for a defensive back. The other corner, Warren Burrell is also 6 feet tall and ranked the 66th recruit in Georgia. He received offers from Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, NC State, Georgia, Notre Dame and Ohio State.

There is another highly recruited member of the secondary, safety Quinton Newsome. He fits in the new mold of bigger safeties like Keanu Neal, standing at 6’2 and 180 pounds. He has 20 offers from schools like Georgia, Auburn, Ole Miss and Cal. North Gwinnett has one of the best secondaries in the state.

Running back Tyler Goodson is also a three-star player and he committed to Iowa. He’s 5’10, 192 pounds and he’s a quick, shifty back. Last year he rushed for 1,315 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also had 18 receptions and 4 receiving TD’s.

The season begins with a tough opponent, No. 3 Brookwood at Mercedes Benz Stadium. The Broncos were 11-3 last season and won their region. They advanced to the state semifinals, so they plan on building on that in 2018.

Both teams are very talented so I’m not sure who will have the advantage in this early season match up.

After a bye week, the second game is in Apopka, Florida versus Wekiva High School. The Mustangs should be a pretty good challenge and Florida teams are known for speed. I expect North Gwinnett to come out victorious.

Norcross comes to town the following week. The Blue Devils are looking to bounce back and return to being an elite team. After winning back-to-back state titles in 2012 and 2013, they’ve been relatively quiet. They are talented but I don’t think they have what it takes to beat North Gwinnett.

Game 4 is at Walton, a Cobb County powerhouse. Walton beat North Gwinnett in last year’s season opener, 31-28.

This should be a very tough game and the Raiders have one of the best players in the state, wide receiver Dominick Blaylock. He is the No. 4 prospect in the state and a four-star recruit. He committed to UGA and I know he will want to shine against this secondary. I think the Bulldogs will be too strong for Walton.

Discovery High is the next game. The school opened in 2015 so it’s one of the newest schools in Gwinnett County. The Bulldogs beat them 41-7 in 2017 and this year will be the same.

On September 28th they travel to Lawrenceville, GA to play Mountain View. The Bears are led by defensive tackle Jaelin Humphries.

The four-star recruit has committed to Florida and he’s one of the best defensive linemen in Georgia. This will be a close game.

The remaining four games are against Mill Creek, Collins Hill, Duluth and Peachtree Ridge. The only easy win in the group is Duluth. The remaining teams should compete and play well but I give the Bulldogs the edge.

They should finish the season 9-1, 8-2 at the worst. They will be in position to make another run in the playoffs to win the championship.

The Super Teams

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The NBA season is over and Golden State won another championship. I’m sure that surprised nobody. I have to wonder if dynasties are bad for the NBA? In addition, can a team be assembled that can stop them?

I have to admit Kevin Durant didn’t invent the super team. The 1998-99 Houston Rockets had Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley, two perennial All-Stars. It was a lockout shortened season and Scottie Pippen was traded to the Rockets in exchange for Roy Rogers and a 2nd round pick in the 2000 NBA Draft (Jake Voskuhl was later selected).

There were chemistry problems with the three super stars. Despite averaging a career high in minutes per game with 40.2 and finishing 4th in the NBA in minutes played, Pippen averaged 14.5 points per game, his lowest since his rookie year, and he made a career-low 43.2 percent of his shots. He also averaged 6.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists and was named to the NBA All-Defensive first team for the 8th time.

Barkley played 42 regular-season games and managed 16.1 points on .478 shooting and 12.3 rebounds per game. Houston finished the season with a 31-19 record. They lost in the first round to the Los Angeles Lakers 3-1. This is a perfect example of super stars teaming up and failing.

The 2003-04 Lakers are another example. LA won three consecutive titles before San Antonio won it all in 2002-03. Los Angeles responded by adding Gary Payton and Karl Malone to the roster. On paper, they seemed to be one of the most talented teams ever assembled but they lost to Detroit in the Finals, 4-1.

The modern template for great players teaming up is the 2010-11 Miami Heat. LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwayne Wade in South Beach. That team made it to four consecutive NBA Finals and won two of them.

We have seen examples that the perceived team with more talent does not always win. Right now, Golden State is head and shoulders above the rest of the league. The Warriors were 73-9 in 2015-16, which was the best record ever. They lost to Cleveland in the Finals. After that season, Durant joined them and the rest is history.

Now I have to wonder if anything can slow the Warriors down? Durant has said that he plans to re-sign with the team.

Mychal Thompson, former NBA player and father of guard Klay Thompson revealed that his son likely will not sign a contract extension with Golden State this summer.

That will drastically affect the team if Thompson leaves. Him paired with Steph Curry is the best backcourt in the league. He’s also one of the best three-point shooters in the game.

We do not have an idea of where Thompson will land. The biggest names in free agency are LeBron and Paul George. They are rumored to head to LA and join forces. Kawhi Leonard is still under contract with San Antonio but he is demanding a trade. Los Angeles is also his desired destination according to the media. Boston is also a rumored landing spot.

We will have a better idea of how everything will play out when free agency officially begins. I can’t foresee another team being able to overtake the Warriors in 2018-19 but we can only hope.